Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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(Reuters) - Russian forces waged an all-out assault to encircle Ukrainian troops in twin eastern cities straddling a river, a battle that could determine the success or failure of Moscow's main campaign in the industrial heartland of Donbas.


* European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen called for talks with Moscow on unlocking wheat exports that are trapped in Ukraine as a result of a Russian sea blockade.

* Russia has not yet seen an Italian peace plan for Ukraine, but hopes to receive it through diplomatic channels, Kremlin's spokesperson said.

* Ukraine will eventually be part of the European Union, France's Europe minister said.


* Battles being fought in eastern Ukraine could determine the country's fate, with Russia's military campaign now in its most active phase, Ukrainian Defence Ministry spokesman said.

* Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow was deliberately slowing its offensive in Ukraine in order to allow civilians to evacuate, RIA news agency reported.

* Russia's defence ministry said its forces struck an arms depot in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas used to store shells for U.S.-produced M777 howitzers.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the report.


* Western countries must not trade security for economic profit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned, referring to debates over the use of Chinese technology in 5G networks and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for Russian gas.

* Russia is using food supplies as a weapon with global repercussions, just like it does in the energy sector, EU's von der Leyen said.

* Britain is in discussions with Ukraine about how to help get grain out of the country, its transport minister said.

* Ukraine is considering the possibility of issuing debt receipts backed by frozen Russian assets to raise funds for rebuilding the country, a presidential adviser said.

* Analyst APK-Inform consultancy raised its forecasts for Ukraine's 2022/23 grain crop and exports because of a better-than-expected winter harvest.


* "This is a stupid war which your Putin started," jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny told an appeals court in Moscow via video link from a corrective penal colony. "This war was built on lies." .

* "The invasion may have been the beginning of the Third World War and our civilization may not survive it," billionaire financier George Soros told the gathering in Davos.

"The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Putin as soon as possible. That's the bottom line."

(Compiled by Tomasz Janowski and Cynthia Osterman)

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